Baltimore Sun

Jan. 6 panel deepens inquiry of Trump Cabinet members

- By Hope Yen

WASHINGTON — The House Jan. 6 committee said Sunday that it will interview more former Cabinet secretarie­s and is prepared to subpoena conservati­ve activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who’s married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of its investigat­ion of the U.S. Capitol riot and Donald Trump’s role.

Lawmakers said they are deepening their inquiry after eight hearings in June and July, with plans to interview additional witnesses and reconvenin­g in September to resume laying out their findings to the public.

“We anticipate talking to additional members of the president’s Cabinet,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair. “We anticipate talking to additional members of his campaign.”

Cheney, R-Wyo., did not identify Trump administra­tion officials who might come forward, but the committee has previously made clear its interest in speaking with those believed to have considered invoking a constituti­onal process in the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office after the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when hundreds of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and interrupte­d the certificat­ion of Joe Biden’s election.

The committee has aired testimony from former Attorney General William Barr, who said he told Trump that widespread voter fraud claims had “zero basis.”

In Thursday’s hearing, the committee played testimony from then-Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who said he urged Trump to call a Cabinet meeting to discuss an orderly transition of power.

Other Cabinet members have indicated they may

have important details to share.

Betsy DeVos, the education secretary at the time, previously told USA Today that she raised with Vice President Mike Pence the question whether the Cabinet should consider invoking the 25th Amendment, which would have required the vice president and the majority of the Cabinet to agree that the president could no longer fulfill his duties.

DeVos, in her resignatio­n letter on Jan. 7, 2021, blamed Trump for inciting the mob.

On the same day that DeVos resigned, Elaine Chao quit as transporta­tion secretary. Chao is married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Mike Pompeo, then secretary of state who is considerin­g a 2024 presidenti­al run, and Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury secretary, also were reported to have discussed the possibilit­y of invoking the 25th Amendment, according to Jonathan Karl of ABC News in his book “Betrayal.”

“The floodgates have opened,” said Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., regarding the next phase of its investigat­ion.

Committee members also hope to learn more

about Ginni Thomas’ effort to keep Trump in office and the potential conflicts of interest for Clarence Thomas as a result of Jan. 6 cases that have come before the Supreme Court. The committee sent a letter to Ginni Thomas last month seeking an interview, Cheney said.

Thomas communicat­ed with people in Trump’s orbit ahead of the 2021 attack and also on the day of the insurrecti­on.

“We certainly hope that she will agree to come in voluntaril­y,” Cheney said. “But the committee is fully prepared to contemplat­e a subpoena if she does not.”

Cheney also said that while the panel hasn’t decided whether to make a criminal referral regarding Trump to the Justice Department, “that’s absolutely something we’re looking at.”

Added Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.: “I certainly think there’s evidence of crimes and I think it goes all the way up to Donald Trump.”

Cheney spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox News Sunday”; Kinzinger appeared on ABC’s “This Week”; and Luria was on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

 ?? J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP ?? Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., anticipate­s the Jan. 6 committee will talk“to additional members”of former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., anticipate­s the Jan. 6 committee will talk“to additional members”of former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

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